The Morning After
Here’s what I’ve learned in 20 years of being a Peyton Manning fan.
There will be unbelievable wins and there will be unbelievable losses. Shoot, last night wasn’t even the worst one of the bunch. Every win is pure joy. Every loss is heartbreaking. Despite some people’s opinions of him, he is the consummate professional no matter the outcome, which I saw again in his post game press conference. He is a teammate and a fighter. He doesn’t give up just because someone thinks he should. I remarked late in the 4th quarter that I don’t know how he has the strength of mind to walk out on that field knowing how big the deficit is, but that’s what a competitor does. He walked out on that field because in his mind he felt like he could find a way. Every one of those men in orange believed they would find a way no matter what the scoreboard said. And that’s the kind of team that has earned and deserves my support.
I spent 4 years of my life as a quasi UT fan cheering on Peyton in college with great teammates like Peerless Price. I spent 14 years of my life as a Colts fan cheering on Peyton and a multitude of professional football players and coaches who still make me smile with the simple mention of their name. Memories flood back to me from people like Tony Dungy, Tarik Glenn, Bob Sanders, Marvin Harrison, Cato June, Joseph Addai, Adam Vinatieri, and Dwight Freeney…just to name a few. I have spent the last 2 years of my life as a Broncos fan cheering on Peyton and some of the greatest men to ever play this game. Men who battle day in and day out because they are a part of something that matters. Guys like Nate Irving, Omar Bolden, Terrance Knighton, Champ Bailey, Duke Ihenacho, Mitch Unrein, Danny Trevathan, Wesley Woodyard, Mike Adams, Orlando Franklin, Manny Ramirez, Zane Beadles, Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Jacob Tamme, Knowshon Moreno, Montee Ball, Julius Thomas, and Matt Prater…again, just to name a few. I have prayed for Coach Fox to survive open heart surgery not so he could return to coach the team but so he could see his teenage daughter grow up and walk her down the aisle some day at her wedding.
These are people whose lives matter to me. Whose successes and failures matter to me. And so here we are 20 years after the first time I laid eyes on Peyton Manning throwing the football around in the front yard with his father, Archie. I have been through a lot of successes and a lot of failures over the years, and lived to tell about it. But, if you told me that game last night could have ended differently if I just gave back any one of those successes, I would’ve said, “NO DEAL.” It’s about the journey. It’s about the body of work. It’s about being a fan in good times AND in bad. No one success or failure is more important than another. I am just grateful that in all of this I can say the good outweighs the bad.
In fact, with as heartbreaking as it ended, this season has been, without a doubt, the most fun I have had in these 20 years. These men made me believe in loyalty, again. They reminded me to never say never. They taught me that no matter how old you get, there’s always someone who will give you a second chance to prove your worth. Most importantly, I learned the color orange isn’t really all that bad, John Elway’s actually a pretty cool dude, and the Denver Broncos have my eternal gratitude, love, devotion, and support for as long as I live!
I hope I can be a fan they’re proud to have cheering for them.